iPhone 6s: Will Sales Fall Short Of Expectations? - InformationWeek

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9/2/2015
10:07 AM
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iPhone 6s: Will Sales Fall Short Of Expectations?

A Bloomberg Intelligence report indicates Apple faces an uphill sales battle as the expected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus may underwhelm.

iPhone 6s: 9 Features On Our Wishlist
iPhone 6s: 9 Features On Our Wishlist
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The addition of new features like Force Touch, an upgraded processor, and a better camera will represent a modest upgrade to the 6 and 6 Plus. These features suggest that this year's smartphone refresh will pale in comparison to last year's iPhone 6 upgrade, according to a report from John Butler, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.

The Aug. 27 report also notes that the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus will have a tough road ahead, due to the success of the iPhone 6.

Specifically, Butler draws attention to a forecast by IDC (full report by purchase only) that Apple would ship 232.7 million iPhones in fiscal 2016, compared with 233.8 million in 2015. This projection would mark the first-ever year-over-year decline in iPhone shipments, if the forecast proves accurate.

"Apple will face tough sales comparisons in the next year, given the strength of the last upgrade cycle, a challenge that may prove too difficult to overcome," Butler wrote in the report (not available online).

(Image: Mutlu Kurtbas/iStockphoto)

(Image: Mutlu Kurtbas/iStockphoto)

Still, the report notes that with Apple's iPhone refresh, which will be part of a major media even the company is planning on Sept. 9, Apple can tap the upgrade opportunity that exists with users still on older-generation iPhones.

"This may help to partly offset the tough comparisons posed by the outsized success of the iPhone 6," the report noted.

Butler also suggested that Apple's return to a 4-inch model of the iPhone could prove alluring to consumers who don't want or need a large smartphone. The company's current most affordable iteration -- the iPhone 5c -- does feature a 4-inch screen.

Among the enhancements expected for the latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which will likely be named the iPhone 6s, are a faster A9 processor, an improved camera, and Force Touch technology, which detects the force of a tap on a touchscreen and responds differently to variations in pressure.

"These new specs could take a slight toll on margins, though should drive upgrades and incremental sales," Butler noted in the report.

One area of the iPhone which may not be upgraded -- no doubt to the chagrin of many -- is the smartphone's battery.

With Apple's focus on making its devices thinner and lighter, particularly the iPhone, the amount of room left over for a battery has been shrinking.

[Read about problems with the iPhone 6 Plus' camera.]

A report from Chinese tech news site cnBeta indicates the new iPhone will actually come with a less powerful battery than the one found on the iPhone 6, which is an 1810 mAh battery. The iPhone 6s will reportedly carry a 1715 mAh battery, which translates to 5.3 percent less capacity.

"These aren't huge decreases, but it is of particular concern for the iPhone 6S as battery life is already one of the worst features of the iPhone 6," a report in Forbes pointed out.

In a recent column for InformationWeek, Eric Zeman argued that, although the new feature sets of the iPhone 6s may be small, when they are added up the iPhone 6s could prove a much better upgrade than the previous "S" updates from years past.

Of course, no one knows what Apple will unveil until CEO Tim Cook takes the stage on Sept. 9.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
9/9/2015 | 10:11:25 AM
Re: Not too concerned
Wow, that's a pretty drastic move. Ironically, iOS has a rather large number of vulnerabilities as well.

That's the problem with device-specific security. What's more important is security over the data coming to the device and access to company resources.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2015 | 11:46:37 AM
Re: Not too concerned
I will get a iPhone 6s anyway when it's available since due to the recent Android OS security problem, my company prevented Android phone from accessing cooperate email.
rrodriguez327
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rrodriguez327,
User Rank: Strategist
9/3/2015 | 9:50:30 AM
Why Apple?
Why Apple Anyway? We all know the proprietary issues with witch iPhones are fraught; moreover, they're simply not business machines. Until relatively recently, users weren't able to do simple things like organize their "desktops" using folders for their shortcuts and most of all, you still can’t snooze on your reminders using customizable intervals! I didn’t make the move to Android (from Windows Mobile 6.5) until the reminder issue was resolved; granted, it wasn’t resolved by Android themselves, but they’re still the only OS who’s allowed access for app developers to create solutions like the Calendar Event Reminder I am using. Being able to snooze on my events in the intervals of my choosing just like I do within my desktop MS Outlook application is simply an essential component to any business person on the go. It also keeps my personal life in balance and on track as well. Windows Phone only just recently allowed more defaults, but still not the full list of intervals Outlook has, and they're not customizable?? Android is truly superior for this functionality alone, let alone all the other reasons a google search would certainly provide insight to.
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2015 | 6:56:27 AM
Re: Not too concerned
I have not chosen to make that switch, at least not yet. There are still some software shortcomings in key business apps that I don't suffer with on the Android platform. I'll be watching online to see how folks say the battery performs.
danielcawrey
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50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
9/3/2015 | 2:04:44 AM
Re: Not too concerned
I'm due for an upgrade soon and I must admit after reading this I am a bit underwhelmed by what this iPhone refresh might entail. The combination of an upgraded processor and a less powerful battery would suggest issues with the length of time between charges. 

However, I'm still probably going to switch over from the Android phone I currently have. 
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2015 | 3:36:46 PM
Not too concerned
While the big jump that Apple is used to seeing with each phone launch may not happen, I'm sure there will still be a lot of new iPhones sold. Some will get the new one just because it is out. Many are still on older generations and are ready for replacements. Either way, I agree that if the changes listed represent the bulk of new features, it is fairly underwhelming.

The possible or projected decrease in battery life is dismaying. My organization support both Samsung and Apple phones. The majority of our Apple phone users need external battery packs that add weight and bulk to their bags. Sounds like that problem may get worse with this next generation of the iPhone 6 family.
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